Sunday 15 November
Favouritism Forbidden - James chapter 2 (New International Version)
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favouritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbour as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favouritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Message: - No favourites
This passage lays out a big challenge for some, and an even bigger challenge for others. I don’t think there is one of us here who hasn’t at some point in our lives treated someone with favouritism. The invite to a party for one friend but “I’m not inviting them after the way they treated me” is how we respond about another. But let’s not beat ourselves up for what is after all a world view that has been indoctrinated into us since birth almost.
In generations gone by, one would lift the peak of one’s cap to the gentry and nobility. We have 1st and 2nd class travel on trains. There are lots of examples when we stop to think about it.
I am sorry to say that in the past I have thought less of the people I have seen who looked like druggies or drunkards and the truth is – that could so easily have been me! Or you for that matter. I can claim I have never been tempted to take drugs and whilst it may be true on the surface, Alcohol is a drug and it was my drug of choice socially. Not now thank God. However, I can’t be smug about not drinking because I am still addicted to sugar. What is your drug of choice?
What do you think when you see someone curled up in a doorway, smelling of cheap booze? Is it to pray for them or is it to try and help?
When it comes to wealth, our passage reminds us that God has chosen those financially poor to be blessed with a place in the Kingdom of Heaven – Verse 5 - "Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?"
And this was written within a lifetime of the Sermon on the Mount. How short our memories can be when things are going well for us!
Even today whilst we recognise that we are being exploited financially, as the rich get richer, how many of us genuinely do all we can to fight for those poorer than ourselves?
I don’t say these things by way of judgement for I have no right to judge. But rather to remind us all, myself included, that we can do more. We can all share more of the mercy show to us by God to those around us. Verse 12 - "Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment".
Let us seek the grace of God to transform our worldly hearts into heavenly hearts. Hearts that spur us on the share our many blessings with those around us without favouritism.
After all God has and is blessing us without favouritism. He began to bless us 2000 years or so ago in the form of his son. He did so, demanding nothing in return, expecting nothing in return.
Rather he did it in the hope we would choose his son as our Lord and Saviour. That we would choose to heed his words from “His Word”. As for those around us, my dad used to say “we are all Jock Tamsons’ bairns”. A truer thing to remember is that they are all loved by God just as much as we are and should be treated as such.